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Contemplating Death – Sobering or Intoxicating? (Parshas Toldos)

Date: November 6, 2013 Speaker: Rabbi Avrohom M. Alter

Contemplating Death – Sobering or Intoxicating? (Parshas Toldos)

In Memory of Reb Moshe Recihman z”l

Title – Contemplating Death – Sobering or Intoxicating?

Parsha(s) –  Toldos

Type – Religion & Spirituality

Year – 2013

Duration – 49:15

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Our Sages in the Talmud teach us the most potent weapon to counter the challenges and temptations of the Yetzer Hora (the Evil Inclination) is to contemplate the day of death! Focusing on a person’s mortality guarantees to sober them up from the intoxicating desires the Yetzer Hora dangles before them. Yet, when Yaakov asks Esav to sell him the Bechora, forgoing his birthright, Esav responds with a resounding “yes, of course”! With disgust he proclaims “Behold I am going to die – of what benefit to me is the Bechora”? Esav clearly contemplates his death, yet the thought of his mortality does not spiritually uplift him! To the contrary it seems to intoxicate him even more! What happened to the wise counsel of Chazal

Also troubling is our sages comparison of Rebbe and Antonius – both “proud” (Rashi: “gai’im”) that their tables were always so bountiful as to always have non-seasonal vegetables year round. Yet the Talmud records that when Rebbe was dying he lifted his 10 fingers heavenward and proclaimed “Master of the Universe, you know well that all my life I toiled in Torah and did not derive benefit from any of this world’s pleasures, not even with even my smallest finger (pinky)! How do we correlate these two events?

And finally the most serious of question on all of our minds: What was Yitzchok Avinu thinking to endeavor to bestow the blessing on Esav?!

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